Whale Done (book review)

I love the business and intra-personal insights that Ken Blanchard shares in all of this books. In Whale Done, I learned from Sea World’s Shamu how I can inspire people to better performance.

Following the story of a frustrated business manager, husband, and father, Ken shows us how catching people doing something right is the key to turning around performance. And in the process, we also create more pleasant work and home environments. Ken’s premise is simple:

“The more attention you pay to a behavior, the more it will be repeated. …If you don’t want to encourage poor behavior, don’t spend a lot of time on it.”

Instead of focusing on what someone is doing wrong, we should be looking for opportunities to say to others, “Whale Done!” In other words, put the bulk of our energy into encouraging people to keep doing the right things, by redirecting our energy away from the mistakes.

It’s revolutionary, but it’s also very exciting. As soon as I finished reading Whale Done, I immediately handed it to my wife and said, “You’ve got to read this!” And I would say the same thing to all parents, pastors, teachers, and business leaders.


Someone said to me, “Great job!” and then not too much later I heard someone else say, “Umm, not so much!” What’s a guy to do?

Here’s what I refocus on: I’m living for the approval of only One.

The only comment that matters to me is God saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Well done = done with excellence.

Well done = finished well, not just well begun.

Good = pleasantly done.

Faithful = trustworthy, reliable.

Servant = not my will, but Yours be done.

And when it comes to praise and criticism from men, I like this:

“Every man needs a blind eye and a deaf ear, so when people applaud, you’ll only hear half of it, and when people salute, you’ll only see part of it. Believe only half the praise and half the criticism.” —C.H. Spurgeon

UPDATE: This idea of servant leadership is a key component of my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter.

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